SINGAPORE — He was a father figure to a pair of sisters who addressed him as “bapak”, which means father in Malay.
But instead of caring for them, he took advantage of their naivety and sexually abused both girls when they were as young as nine.
His crimes only came to light six years after they began, after the older 16-year-old victim - who had been abused over a four-year period - was placed in a shelter, having displayed suicidal tendencies.
At the High Court on Wednesday (14 August), the perpetrator, who is now 59, was jailed for 23 years.
The sentence includes a one-year jail term that was meted out in lieu of 12 strokes of the cane. Only male offenders below 50 are liable for caning.
The Singaporean man, who cannot be named to protect the victims’ identities, had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges of sexual assault by penetration.
Seven other counts - two of sexual assault by penetration and five of molestation - were considered in sentencing.
In handing down the sentence on Wednesday, Justice Pang Khang Chau agreed with the prosecution that it was not “crushing”.
With a possible one-third reduction of jail time due to good behaviour in prison, and with the sentence backdated to the date of his remand on 23 June 2017, the man could walk out of prison when he is 72, noted the judge.
Close family friend
At the time of the offences, which were committed from 2011 to 2015, the man was between 51 and 55. He resided in Malaysia and travelled frequently to Singapore to do odd jobs. He got to know the victims’ father about 20 years ago and they became close friends who often met to talk about their lives and religion.
The victims’ father felt that the man had good business acumen and asked the latter for financial help. He also asked the man to help look after his family when he was remanded in prison, the court heard.
After the perpetrator divorced his wife in 2011, he began to stay overnight at the victims’ home on weekends. He also used the HDB flat as his mailing address.
The man would sleep in the same bedroom as the victims, on a mattress between both girls. He was so close to the victims that he would often hug them and shower them with attention and gifts.
The older sister felt that the man treated her better than her parents. She would confide in him about problems she encountered in school and he would listen and offer her advice.
The victims’ father also felt that the man treated the girls like his own daughters.
On weekends, the man would bring the victims’ family on outings and treat them to meals. But after the outings, he would ask the sisters to individually accompany him to park his car at a multi-storey car park. He would then sexually assault the victims in the car and the lift before they returned to the flat.
Abused older sister
One night in 2011, when the younger sister was asleep in the bedroom, the man told the older sister, who was 9, to kiss his lips. Thinking it was a normal way of showing affection, she complied.
He then asked her to suck his nipples, before he touched her body over her clothes and directed her to perform oral sex on him.
On another night in early 2015, as the younger sister slept, the man groped the older sister’s breasts over her clothes and again made her perform oral sex on him.
After the incident, the victim, who was then 13, tried to tell her parents about the sexual acts. But her parents didn’t act on the information as they didn’t understand what she was trying to tell them.
Abused younger sister
On one night in 2013, after a family outing, the man asked the younger sister to follow him as he parked his car. She sat in his front passenger seat.
After he had parked the car on the top floor of the deserted car park, the man leaned over, hugged the girl, who was between 9 and 10, and kissed her lips.
She didn’t resist as she regarded him as a father figure and thought that he was just showing her affection.
He then reached under her clothes, touched her breasts and told her that they were growing. He also directed her to perform oral sex on him.
Afterwards, the man warned the girl not to tell anyone about what happened, or else he would stop visiting her family. She agreed not to tell anyone as she wanted him to continue spending time with her and her family.
Crimes come to light
In 2015, the older sister, who was in Secondary 2, attended a science lesson and learnt about sexual offences involving victims under 16. She realised that what the man had been doing to her was wrong.
She told her boyfriend about the incidents and he advised her to make a police report. But she didn’t do so as she was afraid of what would happen to the perpetrator.
In mid-2017, the girl was placed in a shelter as she displayed suicidal tendencies. She revealed the sexual abuse to Child Protection Officer from the Ministry of Social and Family Development and a police report was made.
The abuse against the younger sister came to light in the course of police investigations.
The punishment for sexual assault by penetration of a minor under 14 is a mandatory jail term of between eight and 20 years, with a minimum of 12 strokes of the cane.
Other Singapore stories: